Uptown, the University’s nonalcoholic nightclub, is considering ways to bring more students through their doors, especially on weekends. Currently, many underage students choose to spend their time socializing in dorms or at downtown parties on weekend nights. These options are often popular because they are conducive to underage drinking. While generally harmless, these routes can lead to unsafe drinking, as demonstrated by the increase of hospitalizations at the beginning of the current semester. For these reasons, the student body could benefit from having an alternative social scene on the weekend. While Uptown does currently serve as one such option, not many students hang out there on any given Friday or Saturday night. Despite the exciting events offered, many often don’t because they can’t drink there.
It could be reasonable to say that Uptown should open their doors to underage students when alcohol is being served. Currently, they hold events such as “Pub Night” that are open exclusively to people of age. It would be fairly easy to have wristbands or some other system to make sure that only students of age are served. Opening such events to all students, including those underage, would encourage attendance because 21-year-old students would be able to spend time with their underage friends.
The risk of underage drinking occurring if Uptown were to go through with this plan is small, and the benefits could be large. Uptown could create a nice pool hall/nightclub environment that would foster casual drinking. This would be more similar to real-world situations that graduates often find themselves in, be it casually drinking with coworkers at a bar or getting a glass of wine on a potential job interview. Having drinks in a public space could help to curb excessive and binge drinking if students see how alcohol can be consumed responsibly, which is certainly an idea that the University can get behind.
In the end, if providing alcohol on a more regular basis incentivizes students to try a safer and more responsible alternative to the traditional party scene, then it is an avenue worth exploring.